Writing a book takes time. Even if you’re a fast drafter and can put something together in a matter of weeks instead of months or years, working through the multiple drafts it takes to reach the final draft is still tough.
You’re so exhausted at the end, that the thought of starting again at a blank page might just be enough to give up the writing game. You wrote one book, what more does it want from you?
But you are a writer, and once you scratch that itch, it’s hard to go back to a life where your time isn’t filled with words, characters, and plots.
There’s an in-between stage with manuscripts, though. A magical place where you’re filled with the confidence of knowing you can write an MS from start to finish, and the sparkly possibility of what you can come up with next. But this place has a reputation for making you feel too welcome. For making you stay too long in the zone of “having-just-written” and “waiting for inspiration to strike.”
This land should be your pit stop on the way to the next project, not the place you set down roots. To ensure that doesn’t happen, you need something to keep you afloat in-between.
The In-Between Writing Plan
This plan will help keep you on track as a writing superstar while ensuring you are a rested and inspired writing superstar.
The first step for this plan is to celebrate what you’ve just achieved. Even if it took you weeks, months, years, or decades; celebrate that you wrote a whole MS!
You took ideas that started as barely anything, created whole characters and worlds from scratch, wrote countless drafts (which you kept count of), edited endlessly, filled plot holes, dealt with impostor syndrome, and took feedback on board—and on the chin.
These achievements deserve to be celebrated however you like to do that (dinner out, a vacation, a new book, wine, delicious chocolate).
Give yourself that pat on the back and enjoy it.
Depending on how you celebrated, you might need a rest, but this rest has to do with all that work you did.
It’s mentally exhausting piecing paragraphs together, especially over a sustained period, so give yourself the chance to rest.
Take a week or two off, or more if you think you can handle it, but beware of slipping into the comfort of not writing. Sometimes such a rest can lead to months or years of never getting back to the keyboard (trust me, I once rested from writing for six years).
The first real step of any plan is to decide what to work on. Your finished book might have been part of a series and your next project could be the sequel. Or you could be ready to tackle a whole new story, world, or even genre.
In any case, now is the time to decide what you’ll be writing next.
Now that you know what you’ll be working on, it’s time to plan.
If you’re a planner, this will come naturally to you. Get out those notes and outlines, or start creating them, and work on the shape of your story.
If you’re a pantser, or a mix of the two, and planning is not what you do to kick off a project, you can still use this time to plan how you will get going with your next WIP.
If you’re not a planner, chances are you might not be an organizer too, but for the sake of this writing plan working, you might need to be.
It’s all fun and games to say you will sit down and write, but without some organization behind it, it might not happen.
Adulting, tiny humans, tiny pets, even the laundry can get in the way of a writing session. Being organized by setting aside dedicated writing time is the best chance you have of kicking this project off.
Have everything you need in reach. There’ll be no loopholes of going out to buy more tea and spending half the day shopping or getting your notebook from the other room only to end up caught in a Netflix binge. (I know all your tricks because I do them too!)
Organize what you need to get on track to write.
All that planning and organization will get you to your desk. What you do at that desk requires some inspiration. That’s right, it’s time to lure your muse, and get the creative juices flowing!
This can be in the form of reading your favorite writers, a favorite thing you’ve written, or listening to a playlist that puts you in a writing mood.
Inspire yourself with whatever gets your creativity going, and move to the next step!
The final step is probably the most important—get started!
Yep, all that celebrating, resting, planning, organizing and invoking the inspiration gods will do you no good if you don’t start writing.
Is it daunting looking at a blank page? Yes.
Is it more fun to stay awhile in the zone where you’ve just written and need to celebrate and rest? Yeah, but nobody likes to be the last one at a party.
Is it easier to keep planning and organizing for just a few days more? Sure, but it’s more fun to do something with those plans.
You’ve put in the work. You know you can write a book from start to finish. You even know some shortcuts now, and maybe you even know what you’re doing (kind of?).
Get started. It’s time to put those words on the page and reach “The End” again. You’ve now completed The In-Between Writing Plan and graduated to The Work In Progress Plan.
It might take you weeks, months, years, or decades to finish the WIP, but that’s what a writer does.
Now step away from the TV, stock up the cupboards, ignore the laundry, and start typing!
— K.M. Allan